Battle of the Atlantic, World War 2, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, U Boats, Colleen Murdoch

Credit: Colleen Jessup. Captured German U-Boats at Lisahally

The crucial role Northern Ireland played during the Second World War was reinforced by Winston Churchill when he wrote in his memoirs:

"The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril."

During the Second World War Britain needed to import vital food, supplies and ammunition from America to survive and the only way to get it was by ship. However, the ships which fought their way across the Atlantic were relentlessly pursued by German U-Boat submarines.

In a special series of interviews, Forces Radio BFBS Northern Ireland's Rachel Cochrane takes a look at the important part Northern Ireland played in keeping the shattered war economy functioning.

White Ensign Old Glory Londonderry British American warships Battle Of The Atlantic © IWM (A 9206)
© IWM (A 9206)

The influx of military personnel to the city of Londonderry was so great that they outnumbered the local population.

During the conflict, there were strong links between Canada and Londonderry.

Donald Bowman, pictured below, served with the Royal Canadian Navy. His daughter Tammy recently shared some of the experiences her father had during his time within the city walls.

"This is the place he remembers as a refuge, they took care of him and loved him. He was safe here"

Credit: Pat Jessup

The city of culture in 2013, Derry Londonderry has a colourful history, albeit not always a peaceful one.

Home to the Headquarters of the British 8th Infantry Brigade during the troubles, the city has hosted many military visitors over the years.

During the Second World War, the Maiden city’s population doubled with the arrival of 30,000 allied sailors, merchant mariners and airman.

Rhonda Morvak’s father was one of those billeted in 1940’s Derry.

"He never stopped dancing, my dad loved to dance and this is where he did that."

© IWM (A 5223)

Eddie Lavery has a long family history with the military. He joined with his sights set on travelling the world, but it did not go quite as planned.

"Sea sickness. Eight meals a day. Four down and four back up again."

Credit: Robert Buchannan

In Ebrington Square a statue called ‘The International Sailor’ stands proud.

It pays tribute to the Allied Royal and Merchant Navy seamen who died during the Battle Of The Atlantic to keep British supply routes open.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission estimates that "80,000 Allied seamen were lost."

Robert Buchannan and Eddie Lavery are members of the Royal Naval Association in Londonderry. They were pivotal in erecting the statue as a lasting memorial to the fallen of the Battle Of The Atlantic.

Credit: Robert Buchannan

"When I look at the statue, it brings back memories of friends you made while you were in the Navy and you stand six foot tall."

Battle of the Atlantic, War Memorial, World War 2, Londonderry, Derry, Rachel Cochrane

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